war on Yugoslavia was waged with all available means. The most advanced
military technology was employed without any slightest concern for the
consequences for the environment and for human existence. Faceless politicians
were pushing the buttons. In vain scientists warned that such political
willingness to use tools of mass destruction such as DU could bring tragic
secret of the condition of the environment of Yugoslavia was carefully
concealed for over a year by Western politicians. All warnings of physicists,
chemists, and biologists found a deaf ear, which shows that individual Western
politicians considered as a subversive activity any engagement for discovery
of the truth. One can ask why "The West" so feared the truth. That
truth came out when NATO soldiers who had fallen ill could no longer hide
their illness from public scrutiny. Only then was the classic policy of
ignoring or denial given up: politicians could no longer tell their untruths
about the "Gulf Syndrome", the "Balkan Syndrome", and
finally the "NATO syndrome". Everything was now clear. This was the
Illness of an age, the illness of civilization that had resolved to wipe out
the basis of its own existence.
German Minister of Defense Rudolph Scharping even went so far to accuse the
media of panic mongering. Other politicians saw the reason for
"DU-mania" activism and disinformation by peace movements and the
Serbs with the aim of getting KFOR troops stationed in the Serb region of
Kosovo to withdraw and go home. At the same time, the discovery of the
increasing numbers of ill soldiers virtually knocked the wind out of the
malicious declarations of the politicians. It had become crystal clear that
the politicians had no intention of acknowledging their guilt but offered
instead the alibi that the real intent of using these weapons was to minimize
deaths and to enhance the value of nuclear weaponry and munitions.
use of DU munitions and the ecological catastrophe thus became a political
question unifying politicians, peace activists and scientists of various
the context of investigating the ecological catastrophe on Balkan it is
possible to confirm several connections between politics and politicians, on
the other hand, the use of DU munitions. DU ammunition is exceptionally cheap
and therefore extremely profitable. This may confirm the connections between
politics and the industrial military complex. Politicians encourage production
of radioactive weapons, pointing out the economic values of its production. On
the other hand, this possible connection for which evidence is still being
collected, points in the direction of political guilt and responsibility.
Precisely the question of guilt and responsibility is one that by its nature
is especially rooted in the domain of ethics and the ethical. Can humanity
call to ethical accounting and responsibility those who did lacked sufficient
conscience and consciousness when they prepared, ordered and organized the
systematic devastation of the environment? Another question is what in fact
happened in world political structures to place military and imperial goals
highly valued above preservation of the environment? The world does not have
enough time to wait until least pang of the "bite of conscience"
appears, because it will never happen.
these negative eco-political matters, it is also possible to confirm positive
political results in these questions. Those are manifested above all in
political pressure by the scientific community towards state and military
structures, which would bring about the ultimate prohibition and destruction
of nuclear weapons and DU munitions. As utopian as this seems, it is worth the
action is necessary. We must bring pressure to bear through parliamentary and
extra-parliamentary struggle, through non-governmental organizations,
environmental and peace movements.
in Yugoslavia must stake out the required measures in concert with all
relevant sciences, organizational. legislative, administrative. These are
required for preventing further of the environment.
enormous damage stemming from the NATO bombing resulted from the violation of
international legal norms and conventions, and above all, violation of the
human right to a safe and healthy environment. The protocols of the Geneva
Convention expressly forbid "wide-spread, long-term serious damage to the
natural environment, destruction of structures necessary to satisfying
elementary need of the civil population (agricultural regions, water supply
also violated the RIO Declaration on environment and development, as well as
principles contained in "Agenda 21":
Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development. States shall
therefore respect international law providing protection for the environment
in times of armed conflict and cooperate in its further development, as
development and environmental protection are interdependent and indivisible.
Most international agreements
regulating defense of the environment and also contain the principle"
pollution has no borders". By causing an ecological catastrophe and by
bombing Yugoslavia, NATO violated numerous international agreements in regard
to protection of the environment, the ozone layer, water supply, biodiversity,
not to speak of global climate change, industrial accidents etc.
especial legal problem is the use and legitimacy of DU munitions. While the US
Department of defense explicitly contends that its use of this ammunition is
legitimate from the standpoint of international law, international experts
firmly hold the opposite view. Thus, Dr Piotr Bein is right to say that
"military pronouncements about the use of DU bear the characteristics of
information warfare and that they should not to be taken without a grain of
The same holds also for the military conception of international conventions
on protecting the environment and demonstrates that the legal logic of
militarism is exceptionally misguided.
interesting is the presentation of Karen Parker J.D. at the
"International conference campaign against Depleted Uranium",
Manchester UK 4-5 November 2000. She says:
laws and customs of war (humanitarian law) includes all treaties governing
military operations, weapons and protection of victims of war as well as all
customary international law on these subjects.[iv]
In other words, in evaluating whether a particular weapon is legal or illegal
when there is not a specific treaty, the whole of humanitarian law must be
are four rules derived from the whole of humanitarian law regarding weapons:
Weapons may only be used in the legal field of battle, defined as legal
military targets of the enemy in the war. Weapons may not have an adverse
effect off the legal field of battle. (The "territorial" test).
Weapons can only be used for the duration of an armed conflict. A
weapon that is used or continues to act after the war is over violates these
criteria. (The "temporal" test).
Weapons may not be unduly inhumane. (The "humaneness" test).
Weapons may not have an unduly negative effect on the natural
environment. (The "environmental" test).
weaponry fails all four tests:
It cannot be "contained" to legal fields of battle and thus
fails the territorial test.
It continues to act after hostilities are over and thus fails the
It is inhumane and thus fails the humaneness test. DU is inhumane
because of how it can kill -- by cancer, kidney disease, etc. long after the
hostilities are over. DU is inhumane because it causes birth (genetic) defects
thus effecting children (who may never be a military target) and who are born
after the war is over. The use of DU weapons may be characterized as genocidal
by burdening gene pools of future generations.
DU cannot be used without unduly damaging the natural environment and
thus fails the environment test.[vi]
Uranium is an illegal weapon. NATO data show that in the territory of FR
Yugoslavia about 31.000 rounds were fired. Yugoslav Army records put the
number fired at about 50.000 rounds. In Bosnia, from 1994 to 1995, about
10.000 DU rounds were fired. In Iraq and Kuwait about 944.000 rounds were
fired during the Gulf War. This shows how much International conventions
regulating the use of nuclear and radioactive weaponry are and will be
respected in future.
assessing the ecological catastrophe in Yugoslavia we must keep in mind the
following economic facts:
NATO bombing of the economic industrial system caused huge economic
damage. NATO partially damaged or totally destroyed:
energy installations, including refineries, fuel depots, and chemical
complexes, none of which had any military purpose;
agricultural production facilities;
water distribution systems;
travel and tourist buildings (hotels, rest camps), involving
national parks and areas set aside for national parks, and nature reserves.
Special economic losses include:
costs of locating, investigating, cleaning up and demolition of sites and
buildings. The damage inflicted by the bombing cannot be measured in purely
monetary terms, since the targets struck were features of the natural
of clearing, disposing and storing refuse material after clean-up of destroyed
industrial buildings: Particular attention must be paid to financing the
clean-up of nuclear waste stemming from DU munitions, plutonium and other
nuclear waste "cocktails".
costs to be incurred in the near future from the use of depleted uranium,
namely leukemia and other cancers, as well as respiratory illnesses. Also,
costs of treating of those illnesses and investment, costs of studying and
treating these illnesses.
problem of food exports, especially of livestock and agricultural products.
One can well imagine that food experts from Yugoslavia will be diminished,
especially because of doubts about the biological safety of these foodstuffs.
Therefore, damage from lessened cash flow will result in a decrease of
in the quality and economic value of natural resources resulting from
development potential in many such other branches of the economy as fishing,
because contamination of streams, as well as loss of opportunities in tourism,
sport and recreation.
costs and damage from unemployment of workers whose factories have been
damaged or destroyed.
environmental damage to the Balkan region and Yugoslavia is immeasurable and
cannot be expressed solely in terms of money and other material value.
Incalculable loss has been caused alone by the destruction of forest systems,
pollution of streams, the threat to and destruction of biodiversity, doubts
about individual personal health, and the number of people killed and made
will take long to recover. And
even when recovered, its quality and quantity will not be the same as before
the NATO bombing. Human aid is again necessary.
basic principle of modern environmental policy is "polluter pays the
costs", and on this basis one can demand, and demand from the polluter
compensation, and compensation in full, for all environmental damage caused.
Meanwhile, we must also especially keep in mind the import of political and
economic reality, and note that those forces which deliberately perpetrated
ecocide have no such intention for now, despite the pressure of the world
the level of sociological consideration, it is necessary to keep in mind the
human victims as well as the very considerable material damage from DU
Physicists, chemists, and medical specialists are united in one thing, that DU
munitions have delayed results. In addition, they are in agreement that we can
expect consequences for human health in the near future.
that does not mean that there are and were no immediate effects. The victims
were both soldiers and civilians. Soldiers who participated in the Gulf War
were the first victims of DU. Symptoms of their illnesses begin with rapid
onset of a weakening of the immune system, leukemia, and various cancers.
is as yet no agreement of medical science and among doctors on whether or not
DU munitions cause these illnesses. The causes of such an undefined and
extremely rigid position are dictated above all by political motives and are
far from the field of medicine.
is an extremely unproductive thesis that it is better to take our time with
the truth or to cover it up. When medicine delays producing the truth, panic
increases. The majority of the Serb population of Kosovo and southern Serbia
already has that sense of panic. It is created by the recognition of the
illness of NATO soldiers and also by discovery of what happened to the
civilian population in Bosnia. In the past five years, about 500 inhabitants
of the Bosnian city of Hadzici have died suddenly and unexpectedly.
a Sarajevo suburb, was the location of a military repair center. In the period
from 23 August until 14 September 1995, this city was hit every day by
American “Warthogs” [A-10As], firing DU munitions, in which only civilian
inhabitants of Hadzici worked. It has been pointed out by Dr Slavica Jankovic,
Director of the hospital in Bratunac, where the people of Hadzici had fled
after the Dayton Agreement was signed, that the causes of death of the victims
were diagnosed as cancer, leukemia and heart attack. Most of the dead were the
civilian workers at the military repair facility, as well as their families,
women and children.
Dr Zoran Stankovic, Chief of Forensic pathology at the Military Medical
Academy in Belgrade, adduced the case of a nine year old girl “who had most
probably inhaled uranium particles: her nails fell out, she suffered severe
problems of the skin, lungs, and kidneys, and finally epileptic
as DU is known to have delayed effects and that it is necessary to wait two or
three years until these produce consequences for human health. Therefore, it
is necessary to keep in mind the following estimates by medical doctors that
there will be a 30% increase in the next ten years of people sickened by
cancer, leukemia, kidney and respiratory disorders (from contaminated regions)
is impossible to over-emphasize the warning from geneticists of the danger of
changes in the genetic code and of consequences for the next generation from
pollution of the environment in Yugoslavia is being caused not only by DU, but
also by destruction of petro-chemical complexes. The consequence of this is
increased air pollution immediately after the end of the war. Every medical
doctor at Belgrade University Children’s Hospital will tell you that between
1999 and 2000 the number of children suffering from respiratory illnesses,
pulmonitis, asthma, chronic bronchitis and various allergies has increased by
about 100%. According to a senior medical source at Belgrade's military
academy hospital, Yugoslavia checked 1,100 of the more than 100,000 soldiers
who served in Kosovo, and apparently found no problems. A Yugoslav army doctor
who was not part of the team which checked the men asked a question similar to
one asked by Gulf War veterans since 1991: "But the question is, what
kind of examination did they perform and what specialized equipment did they
science must offer clear conclusions about these problems, which are in direct
connection with human health, and must give an answer to the question whether
or not a real causal connection exists between the use of DU munitions and
destruction of human health. Only by furnishing clear and true answers can
medicine escape the danger, imposed by politics, of concealing the truth.
of DU munitions and of the destruction of the environmental balance in
Yugoslavia are found on both sides.
soldiers are victims of lies and fabrications, tossed away after "
honorable discharge", and filled with suspicion of the governments that
sent them to Iraq, Kuwait, Bosnia and Serbia.
victims are the yet unborn children who could not know about the reasons for
an irrational war. Their hunting questions will become part of our
consciousness and our conscience. Science has been abused and has become a
slave to the military policy. Therefore a Serb scientist and politician, Dr
Dragoljub Jovanovic, was right, thirty years ago, when he warned:
science investigate and make discoveries but social organs should approve of
what is to be produced and introduced into use, public opinion should help
governments by informing and warning them, experts "councilors for the
future" should protect the present from too abrupt changes. Democracy
puts governments under control, sociology should hinder science and technique
and should inspire politics."[ix]
author is thankful to Dr John Peter Maher, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics,
and Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL (USA) for his creative
engagement in translating this article into English.
YUGOSLAVIA REPORT - Environmental
consequences of the NATO Bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,
Federal Ministry for development, science and environment, Belgrade, 2000.
”technical-environmental aspect” we understand the results of all
measures and qualities of the environment that were created by agencies of
the Yugoslav and Serbian states and the independent expert team of the
United Nations. For concrete data see the above-noted brochure Environmental
consequences of the NATO Bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Piotr Bein, NATO (Mis)information to
the public: Why we must not trust NATO on DU, "SMISAO",
Belgrade, 11-12/2000. p. 124
international law, which includes The Hague law (governing military
operations) and Geneva law (governing protected parties in time of war) is
binding on all countries. The United States Supreme Court has consistently
upheld the binding nature of customary law, including customary humanitarian
law. All of international law, including the UN Charter and Statute of the
International Court of Justice, reflects the binding nature of customary
1996 the International Court of Justice, in the nuclear case, finds that all
weapons must be evaluated under the criteria of humanitarian law but does not
set out what that criteria is. I wrote my Memorandum to describe that
my view this is the key point of divergence from the other presenter on the
topic of DU and the law at the CADU conference. I view that the “science” of
DU, as presented by, inter alia, Dr. Horst Gunther and Dr. Rosalie Bertel, is
sufficient to show the “illegality” of DU under existing norms. The other
presenter does not.
Statement of Karen Parker, J.D.,
International Conference Campaign Against Depleted Uranium, Manchester, UK,
4-5 November 2000.